tv [untitled] December 28, 2011 2:30pm-3:00pm EST
these are the images seeing from the streets of canada. today. the top stories from one of the late north korean. shuttered but concerns that follow what i actually want to keep the status quo. to shape its international. trial. russian court decides against buying a translation of a how to krishna holy text which was suspected to be speak. twenty seconds from now people of elves they discuss discuss the legacy of the last soviet leader mikhail
gorbachev and his latest edition of cross talk. with. technology innovation. developments around russia. the future. oh in wellington crosstalk i'm peter lavelle as he turns eighty male got a bunch of salacious each season loved abroad in a low speed home as glasnost and perestroika become distant memories we ask how will history judge the man who seemingly ended history. and.
discuss the legacy of the last soviet leader i'm joined by stephen cohen here in the studio he's a professor of russian studies and history at new york university and his latest book is the victims return survivors of the gulag after stalin in london we go to geoffrey hosking he is an emeritus professor of russian history at university college london and his latest book is rulers and victims the russians in the soviet union and also in london we have lad sobel he's an analyst at the i would securities and another member of our crosstalk team on the hunger all right gentlemen this is cross talk that means you can jump in anytime you want stephen i want to go to you first here as got a bunch off is eighty years old today and let's talk about global legacy and then let's go to specific to russia what is his contribution to history at eighty years old remembering his rule ending the soviet union well one contribution is already recorded in history he set free the countries of eastern and central europe that's
done where they go from here is up to them what's not settled or written history is the fate of democracy in russia there are different opinions about the condition of democracy in russia whether and he has very strong opinions about our positions and for good reason he wants to go down in history as the father of russian democracy in the west we attribute it to yeltsin but that's not true now if. democracy flourishes in russia one day and stabilizes russia will go down gorbachev will go down as the greatest reformer in russian history if democracy falters and fails in russia and he'll go down in history as another tragic russian former he knows that and that's why his blood pressure about what's going on in russia is rising on his eightieth birthday already maybe he's just protecting his legacy here ok but i was today i was going to go to you anyway go ahead live the thing is here is that maybe some people attribute democracy to one leader or another but most
russians don't attribute democracy to either yeltsin or got a bunch of go ahead. i would just like to make one point. that gorbachev was actually responsible for peaceful disintegration of the soviet union and i think this is a very important point especially when we see what's happening in the middle east so that would be my first point and secondly i would argue that russian democracy is proceeding on course i don't think that little bit of a and isn't in the mean time to stabilize the political system to stabilize the economy will actually do very much harm and i would do that president go to visit in that video if it's now leading a new way if similar to perestroika and i would guess that in about ten years we'll see genuine democratization in russia it's very and jeff if i go to you in london i mean it's very interesting here because we see it live lived here for twelve years and and we don't hear the word perestroika but a lot of people would attribute the attributes what we you all of us here would
think of us had a strike is coming about under putin not under yeltsin or got a bunch of. well i was going to say that i don't think oprah trusts reputation depends on what happens in the future now i think his reputation is there to see he was in charge for five years he launched a democratic reform there's no doubt about that he started the process he dissolved the communist party of the soviet union he set up elections in which there were genuine parties conducting a fight with each other but he didn't and couldn't take the process through to its end i mean for one thing he never himself stood for election as president of russia which would have been or of the soviet union which would have been the logical outcome of his democratic reforms he didn't have the courage or the insight it seems to me to take that process of democratization through to its logical conclusion it steve if i go to you i mean one of the things we talk about with perestroika and glasnost is reforming the soviet union but was it reform a bowl of ok let's look at the economy ok the that type
a command economy failed now how do you fix that you just have to exit don't you know i mean many countries of introduced elements of another economic system into their economic you're saying my bread would have worked better it's not a hybrid i mean most economies of the twentieth century have been mixed economy state market economies i mean what would roosevelt's new deal was an attempt to introduce a large state sector into what had been an uncontrolled private sector growth which tried to do the reverse to introduce market into a state economy the chinese did it the hungary and had done it even before gorbachev of course it's doable but it's going on around the world you know it was going in reverse direction because what do you that's the data that's the difference but on the other hand there's no evidence that it wasn't possible i mean it's a long process and i don't actually agree with jeffrey in the sense that he didn't carry the process through to the end you would have had to have the temperament in the power of stalin to impose full democracy on russia in one thousand nine hundred nine hundred ninety the problem was group which off was the quintessential anti
stalinist he had come to dismantle the system and let me remind you of one other thing i admit i've known garbage. for twenty years i'm not entirely objective to be fair but george washington was elected president the united states by the american congress not by popular vote it's a process that has to begin someplace that was a step forward ok you're talking about other countries and i agree with you that a mixed economy is in fact a general rule in the twentieth century but the question really is was the soviet union reformable now when gorbachev introduced elements of private enterprise into the soviet economy what the private enterprise did was to suck goods out of the state economy and create an economic crisis where there were desperate shortages in the cities so that the way he carried out the reform did not work or it worked badly. what do you think about that. i think the soviet economy of so dysfunctional so wasteful it was impossible to be for me the only way you also actually would as a and complete collapse and disintegration of the soviet union and i would actually
argue that the economic factors was really very much behind the disintegration of the soviet union because you couldn't carry on implement market reforms on the basis of central control in from moscow you really had to devolve power to develop the various republics and this is the seed of this integration and we're seeing similar such processes in central europe as well in czechoslovakia and yugoslavia so you know i don't i don't believe that the idea that the soviet economy could be at risk youth in some form i think it's as delusional if i can add on top of it he would do so you economic reform here by going to stephen here and then having political free form simultaneously that creates a high expectations when the shelves are empty i mean at a certain point there is a collision and there was a collision there was a collision and i would i would i would build on what you say because the point is correct that the economic crisis that came in one thousand nine hundred ninety one was actually
a political crisis it wasn't caused by the economy it was caused by political decisions first made by you by gorbachev then by you also. for example the moment that gorbachev and yeltsin once you also had been elected president of the russian republic announced that prices would increase suppliers of goods refused to deliver into the market to the stores because they were waiting for the price increase it wasn't a failure of production it was a failure of distribution that's not a failure of this of the economic system those were bad political decisions jeffrey if i go to you let me give you my sense of it i'm a gorbachev skeptic i'll be open about it. i have my one of my biggest problems with him is historical figures that i never really got to grasp it he had a grasp on really really what he wanted to do it was basically. a make shift decision going from crisis to crisis to crisis like i never understood any kind of broad plan it was forced upon you well in many ways and i don't entirely agree with
that i think when he came to power he did have a vision about how to revive soviet communism and make it a real force in the world and he hoped at the same time to revive the soviet economy and to make it a country less hated in the world he had grasped that the soviet union was hated by most european peoples so i think it was a humane vision and an ambitious vision and when he started to implement it have really kept on running up against difficulties as steve has said i think in fact the economic decisions were mainly economic ones but in order to carry in the through it was necessary to carry out political reform as well and that further destabilize the country i think that gorbachev didn't have a good understanding of the nationalities problem in the soviet union because as soon as he loosened up the political system then the non russian nationalities began to raise their heads form their own political organizations and i just hate for greater autonomy or even in the end to secede from the soviet union it seems to me gentlemen that go ahead lie but it seems to me that forgot about to succeed he had to fail it's
a very ironic go ahead yes i think you're probably right but i'm just like to return to your point about his plan actually. we believe that it was impossible to have a plan like this you know you cannot you cannot dissolve an organization such as the soviet union in any sort of peaceful coherent very pretty plant manner you know you just have to go along and try your best and i think this is that it really very much of the show revealed his strengths because he was he was at every point given the system started to resisting when there was the possibility of retreating to the previous system he pushed for over again oh so i don't i don't believe that although he did did not have a plan but it was he had the inside him in the feeling that he could actually achieve this process so you know i think it's a you know if you look at the situation i would say middle east do we have a plan for the need certainly now lately obviously we see how things happen and i think it's realistic to do expect anyone to have
a plan steve even if you don't think he got had just had a detailed plan you know i don't think he had a detailed plan i think he had a vision both of the soviet union and of the world and let's face it on the world stage achieved a great deal by ending the cold war by reducing the number of nuclear weapons by achieving agreement with reagan those were all tremendous achievements and we should remember that although of course in the end they also helped to lead to the breakup first of all of the warsaw pact and then of the soviet union so that gorbachev as a result of his vision kept facing problems which probably he had not fully anticipated and which led him into one crisis after another and then i think indeed he lost control of the process are a gentleman going to a short break here after a short break we'll continue our discussion i got a job so i guess he stayed with r.t. . if you. want to.
whether you dive from high or to the depths. catch the power of the wind or drift in the beauty of the currents. being well prepared is a must and if you're lucky. you'll never forget your experience we only need them a screen that's going to be heaven. in the flight see up close and below the ice on our team. right to clean a ghost town. squandered money.
what is no. more than sixty square kilometers i mean why move on the most nations and those who are still surprisingly on live i'm finding we're just there it's getting bad out here. but not saying hardly any birds squirrels you know. ducks you know i don't know what's going on here. concrete monarchy. and if you. want to. welcome back to cross talk on peter lavelle to mind you were talking about the legacy of me help out of a child's. education. but first let's see what russians think about him the last leader of the soviet union.
is now eighteen years old his name is forever linked with attempts to reform the soviet system. and his policies have received different assessments through the years the russian public opinion research center asked russians to define his historical role fifty one percent of the respondents said his opposed to show who was thinking about the betterment of his country but made a number mistakes sixteen percent called him this honest man who must of modded the collapse of the country and another twelve percent see him as a brave man who took responsibility to oversee vital reforms in the country gorbachev attempted to create a more open and prosperous country through the paula says of glasnost and perestroika back to peter that's what russians think about the legacy of mr gorbachev well our sophie shevardnadze interviewed mr got
a bunch off and this is what he said to her about what he thinks his legacy is. going to ensure i think it is a united world. we move personas a world where we split. the world free of ideological struggle. but you have to put the pieces perhaps the most important creating necessary prerequisites and conditions to move them. ok stephen you heard that ok you know and you know got a bunch of extremely well and i would say you know get you both are friends. do you think he's being fair to himself you think fair to reality when his seventy fifth birthday five years ago he had a conference and i gave i gave a paper called there is a new cold war and he became very angry at me because he considers his great achievement certain achievement the ending of the last cold war so if there's
a new cold war something went wrong the fact is something went wrong after nine hundred ninety one now we can have a whole separate program but remember the soviet union ended twenty years ago and yet obama said we have to have a reset which suggests something has gone bad there's a lot of relational you and i disagree on a lot of things but on this one we do what i told a russian is did what did we squander did we i mean i don't squander something that gorbachev had given us at the end i think the answer is we have it could possibly be retrieved i'm not very optimistic but it's possible but i think this is a legacy to might have been squandered jeff if i got to you this is this is good because one of the interesting things is here is that a lot of russians don't have a good opinion and got a child but they most russians will say also is that it's the west that hasn't ended the cold war and that some of the greatest frictions we've seen over the last twenty years is that the mentality coming out of the west hasn't changed but the mentality certain his change certainly changed here in russia. ok well i do think
that ending the cold war was just great a single achievement and it was a very great achievement i don't think he handled it terribly skillfully towards the end i think he had it is it end of the negotiations with the u.s. and with the west rather weakly i mean for example. he dissolved the warsaw pact but didn't really get anything in return for it he loved the g.d.r. to join nato without getting any written commitments in return that nato would not expand further east would see understood that nato had made a promise but there was actually no very definite promise on the other hand i think obviously the main fault for the for the the kind of renewal of the cold war really does lie with the west because we didn't respond strongly enough to gorbachev needs and then indeed to yeltsin's needs in the early years of post soviet russia we needed to do i think much more to help them economically for example by creating a stabilization fund to provide against the inflation of the ruble which was catastrophic in the early years after the fall of the soviet union so we made
a number of very serious mistakes i think of made some mistakes but they're far of overshadowed by ours that if i go to you that's the criticism i hear all of the time and it's already been mentioned it is what did go to which i get in return for helping to end the cold war and what russians will tell you today is that nato expansion that's what russia and this is it in people are a very bitter about that and even to that we have to remember august two thousand and eight where we had a nato supply georgia start of war so that the this brings back the feelings that go but just betrayed the new russia and that's what you still consistently get right. i would very much like what jeffrey said but i would i would suggest that gorbachev was a peacemaker but unfortunately the west has not responded in the like manner and the expansion of nato overseen as an aggressive and rightly so and as you as you mentioned the events in georgia have all really terry fake really very very
dangerous very concerning and i can understand why this russian population sees this as a retreat as giving up concessions to the west but we have to understand that you know central europe eastern europe to be free you know we are now in post but with the imperial face and i think that's one of the main major achievements it will be actually also understood that this need to be done and so he has restored the balance of power in europe again and he's a great peacemaker stephen. you just go back to his project of democratizing. the soviet union at the time again you know him very well how did he understand that really without the dissolving the communist party because you are of the you have the thesis that the communist party could have been reformed it could have been democratized and i think that's a minority opinion in the world right now but i mean it's a very interesting thesis knowing him how did he see that going about you have to
remember who he was where he came from and his generation he was of this generation that came to consciousness under khrushchev and the speech against stalin gorbachev was an anti stalinist later when he got power he wanted to be a de stalin nizer that meant to dismantle the controls that stalin had imposed on the soviet union in the thirty's and then he said something remarkable in one thousand nine hundred seven he said lenin made a big mistake he carried out an economic new policy that after the civil war he didn't carry out a political policy in other words he said lennon's mistake was not becoming to democratize or he thought he had come at last in gorbachev. of gorbachev's road to democracy was removing stalin's controls not only on society but on the party itself now he may have had a real man of size view of what the communist party had been at the beginning but it certainly wasn't then in the beginning what it was when gorbachev came to power he then said in one thousand nine hundred nine to the party you have to become an
electoral party and they nearly passed out from this the last thing in the world wide of course but why not why couldn't the party of split into a gorbachev electoral party and the party that's not headed by zyuganov which by the way don't ever forget this that after the end of the soviet union the new russian communist party was the most successful electoral party in the duma until something else happened i we can debate what happened to come party had an electoral capacity it had to get it was too big it wasn't a real party had nearly twenty million members in those twenty million members was some kind of four or five million men i mean you actually had always made the argument today it's still the only political party in russia i mean well it is the only national nationwide electoral party in russia it's a fact so i don't i'm not prepared to say it was on reformable i mean why say things are only formal if the process was underway well jeff if i go to you i mean when you if i was been living in poland at the time when this was going on and when they had their first democratic election there wasn't one cult member of the with
their version of the communist party that was elected to parliament they were completely wipe it out and so i could well imagine that you would have the communist party of the soviet union saying what was going on in eastern europe that some of you could be the entire party could be electable which in retrospect seems what i'm more so but i sure was a national party i wasn't a party perceived as being a russian party in poland here they could call even on nationalism as they do today james i guess maybe the question is is it well i mean did lack of social democracy and i mean that they because that's what a lot of the eastern european communist party said they just won social democratic . well i do think actually that steve is wrong about that i think the communist party was unreformable really because it was not really a political party and it couldn't really become one it was the backbone of the soviet union the soviet union as distinct from russia and once there was no no more any will from moscow to hold the thing together by means of the communist party then the other nationalities starting with the baltic and carrying on with georgia
and armenia and so on they started to go their own way and at that point the communist party of the soviet union really lost much of its or isn't it now gorbachev perhaps could lead to say in the early months of one thousand nine hundred one have split the communist party and lead a kind of social democratic wing of it himself and that might have been successful but significantly he didn't do that so i think really the evidence suggests that the communist party of the soviet union was really unreformable ok vlad you want to jump in on this one yeah i would i would i definitely agree there is this going collusion and i would just that the united russia party is in a sense a revival revived communist party because you know it's the party of the officials of the of the state you know some wondering whether you know their actual political culture needs this kind of party you know and whether we could see united russia in a sense every viable of the of the idea of the communist party communist party was beyond reform in my opinion ok one of the gentlemen one of the things i think is
very interesting is that if we were if we look at what got a bunch of left behind left a lot of new republics the former soviet republics became independent in the in an interesting way if i go to you on this one joe he's really the father of a lot of new nations in the world even though we don't even really tie his name to them if i'm thinking of all the republics minus of course the russian federation. yes well they had very different histories actually and they didn't all leave the soviet union in the same way i mean the baltic republics we're first to go because the baltic people hated communism the soviet union and russia all three and they had memories of the terrible deportations at the end of the second world war beginning of the second world war two actually and they just wanted to get out as soon as they thought it was practically possible the georgians hated russians as well and of course the north cookies in peoples and yet in central asia you find people who really didn't want to leave the soviet union at all i had no particular reason for me to do so i knew crane was somewhere in between you claim with was
split to simplify things a bit on the whole west ukrainians felt rather like the baltic peoples whereas east ukraine is very much wanted to stay with russia in the soviet union we had at that time a human chain which extended from live with two key if but no further east protesting about ukrainian membership of the soviet union so it was really they were very different in their in their approaches to leaving the soviet union and they history has been similarly very different i think one could say ok stephen got thirty seconds left what's his legacy well i was astonished by your little hungers report their poll shows that fifty one percent of russians today think he did have even if he made mistakes in thirty nine change the best interest of his country what this means is that as the country stops demonizing gorbachev and focus not on his character but his mistakes we're going to have a new great debate in russia word belongs not in the united states about what happened in eighty five to nine hundred ninety one and that's going to be very
valuable for russia because russia has to sort this out and now that fifty one percent think roberts off was trying to help the country but maybe did it the wrong way future leaders can join this debate and say ok he was right in his goal but i have a better way to do ok so where history will judge many thanks to my guest today in london and here in the studio with me and thanks to our viewers for watching as you darkies. see you next time and remember crosstalk. and if you see. wealthy british scientists some time to.